Young photographer Dennis Stock tries to pin down rising actor James Dean in order to give "Life" magazine assignment more weight than that of a simple puff-piece. However, when Jimmy is not reluctant, he’s chaotic, swept along by joy, play and mischief. And when Dennis is not annoyed, he’s exasperated, trying to get the elusive Jimmy to focus—or even to show up. From the frenetic energy of New York, the two head back to the heartland—to the Indiana farm where Jimmy grew up—in order to record something of Jimmy’s roots. Dennis thinks he’s capturing a star in the moment before he breaks; in fact, he’s documenting the last moments of intimacy and simplicity that James Dean will ever know. In the process of the journey from Hollywood to New York to Indiana, a deep affection and improbable friendship gradually develops between the two young men.